Whatever talents I possess

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DylanThomas

Dylan Thomas

“I am at the most transitional period now,” wrote Dylan Thomas to his friend. “Whatever talents I possess may suddenly diminish or suddenly increase. I can with ease become an ordinary fool. I may be one now. But it doesn’t do to upset one’s own vanity.”

In that spirit, I accede to my dear friend Bob’s suggestion to post author “endorsements” of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness on Views from the Edge. “Why not?” I said to myself. “It’s your book! If you don’t promote it, who will? Who cares if you’re a fool! If you don’t do it now, your limited talents may suddenly decrease!”

Be Still! coverAUTHOR ENDORSEMENTS

”As a person who navigates the pleasures and perils of the twenty-first-century campus, having Be Still! at my fingertips will be like having a counselor, a guide, a very present help in these times. This volume touches the pulse of our times with the rare combination of unwavering candor and tender mercy.”
Lucy A. Forster-Smith, Sedgwick Chaplain, Senior Minister in the Memorial Church, Harvard University

”These are lovely, powerful, centering essays–messages from and for a fragile but beautiful planet.”
Bill McKibben, Author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

”This wondrous collection of rich snippets would be of interest and value if only for the rich source material that Gordon Stewart quotes from, as it must be an inexhaustible memory and/or file. But the many words he quotes are no more than launching pads for Stewart’s expansive imagination and agile mind that take us, over and over, into fresh discernment, new territory, unanticipated demands, and open-ended opportunity. All of that adds up to grace, and Stewart is a daring witness to grace that occupies all of our territory.”
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, Author of Remember You Are Dust, The Prophetic Imagination, and many other books.

”Gordon Stewart has a way with words, a clean, clear, concise, and yet still creative way with words, a way that can set the reader almost simultaneously at the blood-stained center of the timely–the urgent issues of our day–and also at the deep heart of the timeless, those eternal questions that have forever challenged the human mind. Stewart looks at terror, Isis, and all their kin, from the perspective of Paul Tillich and, yes, John Lennon. He moves from Paris, Maine, by way of the town drunk, toward the City of God. This is strong medicine, to be taken in small, but serious doses. Wear a crash helmet!
J. Barrie Shepherd
Author of Between Mirage and Miracle and many others

Be Still! is needed at this American moment of collective madness even more than the moments that occasioned many of the essays originally airing on public radio and other venues. With a keen eye and a knack for telling the right story at the right time, Rev. Stewart speaks to the pressing issues in our politics, economy, and culture, and consistently, often poignantly, puts them in ethical and theological perspective that clarifies what too often mystifies. Great bedside reading for those of us who stay up at night concerned about where our world is heading!”
Michael McNally, Ph.D
Professor of Religion, Carleton College; Author of Honoring Elders: Aging, Authority, and Ojibwe Religion

Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness, is exactly what its title proclaims: a departure from the frenzy and folly of our times. Each essay offers the reader an opportunity to breathe deep, to fall into the story or idea and consider what it means to be a citizen, a friend, a human being. The topics covered are both particular and universal (usually both at the same time), and the writing is wonderfully concise and open–much like poetry! This is a book you will want to open again and again; it s what the world needs now, more than ever.”
Joyce Sutphen
Minnesota Poet Laureate; Professor in English, Gustavus Adolphus College

”In Be Still! Stewart masterfully spins a counter-narrative to the collective madness that is gripping our world. Like the psalmist, Stewart prays thoughtfully through metaphors and religious tradition, meshing theologians with news headlines to lead the reader to a deeper, more sustained truth. Be Still! reads like part op-ed and part parable. In these troubling and anxious times, may we, who have ears to hear, listen!”
Frank M. Yamada
President, McCormick Theological Seminary, Author of Configurations of Rape in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary Analysis of Three Rape Narratives 

joanna-baillie-1

Joanna Baillie (1762-1851)

Then, after heeding my friend Bob’s and Dylan Thomas’s advice, I heard the reassuring voice of Joanna Baillie speaking from long ago:

“Pampered vanity is a better thing perhaps than starved pride.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 26, 2017.

 

 

Amazon review disappears!

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Amazon
***** Striking a blow against willful ignorance, March 15, 2017
By Amazon Customer

This review is from: Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness (Paperback)

This is a powerful book, its essays best absorbed in small doses. I used it as a daily meditation, studying no more than two at a time.

The title suggests a turning inward, a journey toward inner harmony, but it is really a clarion call to informed action against the national perils of collective madness and willful ignorance. The book connects us with threads of thought from seminal philosophers, and my favorite is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Read this book. Talk about it with your friends. It is important. James Robert Kane, author.

The customer review vanished from the Amazon site.

“Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” I’m guessing either Amazon followed James Kane’s counsel by willfully providing customers with a very “small dose” of this customer review (as in one short hour on the site before the dose vanished) or Amazon is ignorant of the disappearance of “A striking blow against willful ignorance.”

It’s hardly a matter of life or death. But it’s enough to drive an anxious author mad  when Amazon lists 10 five-star customer reviews of Be Still! but posts 8 instead of 10.  Where, O where, are the other two? Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me! I need to get a grip and be still!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 19, 2017.

 

“Oh what a relief it is!”

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“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, Oh what a relief it is!”

Writing a book is one thing. Promoting it is another.

I love the one. The other gives me a stomach ache. I sip joy as I write. I gulp down anxiety just thinking about the book’s material success (i.e., number of sales!). Which is why I’m so grateful to “Speedy” –  Bob Todd of Bob Todd Publicity – for relieving me of the gastric distress of promoting Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness.

Bob posted on my FaceBook page page today.

I’m delighted to be spreading the word about Gordon Stewart’s new book, “Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness” from Wipf & Stock Publishers.

”Be Still! is needed at this American moment of collective madness even more than the moments that occasioned many of the essays originally airing on public radio and other venues. With a keen eye and a knack for telling the right story at the right time, Rev. Stewart speaks to the pressing issues in our politics, economy, and culture, and consistently, often poignantly, puts them in ethical and theological perspective that clarifies what too often mystifies. Great bedside reading for those of us who stay up at night concerned about where our world is heading!”

–Michael McNally, Ph.D., Professor of Religion, Carleton College; Author of Honoring Elders

I have gratis copies available for media interested in doing a book review or feature article, and for professors interested in considering the book for their classroom.

Contact me direct at BT@BobToddPublicity.com.

 

As for the Alka Selzer, remember what Speedy says,”take only as directed!” Then, slow down, be still, and leave your anxious madness behind! Who knows? With Bob’s bromide, I might yet become still – and know that I’m not God.😳

  • Gordon C. Stewart, thankful for Speedy’s relief, Chaska, MN, March 5, 2017.

 

 

Mia Culpa in the A.T. Era

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Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, now available on Amazon, is gaining attention from professional journals, magazines, TV/radio stations, and professors interested in reviewing it or including it in college, university, and seminary courses, thanks to the good work of Bob Todd of Bob Todd Publicity.

Apologies to readers for this blatant act of author self-promotion. It is, after all, the second month in the A.T. (“After Trump”) Era.

Mea Culpa! But not too much! -:)

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 3, 2017.

Be Still!

Yesterday was a day to celebrate. The publisher of BE STILL! Departure from Collective Madness graciously agreed to used Vincent van Gogh‘s painting from the asylum of Saint-Rimy as the Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness’s cover.

van gogh prisoners exercising

“Prisoners Exercising (After Dore)” – Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Also called “The Prisoners’ Round”

Today Be Still! is going through the final steps before publication by Wipf and Stock Publishers in Eugene, Oregon.

It will take two to three weeks before Be Still! will appear on Amazon. You will find it sooner on the Wipf and Stock site at reduced price. Those in the Greater Twin Cities will be invited to a book launch and book signing party where Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness will be available at reduced cost.

Grace and Peace,

Gordon

 

 

 

Be Still! Departing from Collective Madness

Writing Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness (scheduled for release by Wipf and Stock Publishers in January), I had a growing sense of its prescience. The subtitle “departure from collective  madness” is anchored in the works of Elie Wiesel and Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, and the Gospel of Matthew’s story of the Wise Men (sic) who “departed” for their own country by another way.

As the date for final submission of the Be Still! manuscript drew near, I saw a madman running for the highest office of the land but underestimated the extent of the collective madness that would be drawn like iron to a magnet. The billionaire television personality who puts his name on everything his hands have touched, gave voice to people who have felt groped by the system.

Michael Moore, a champion of America’s forgotten working class, saw this coming. He was in touch with the many sources of anger that found a voice in Donald Trump, and he warned the Democratic Party to get in touch with it before it was too late.

Now it is history. I felt sick Wednesday morning. By yesterday evening, I was able to calm down. Today’s sense of nausea is worse than yesterday’s after reading “Meet Trump’s Cabinet-in-Waiting” – a cabinet which will put the country back into the hands Wall Street, big oil, climate change-deniers, and the likes of Chris Christie, Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Rudy Gulliani (Attorney General candidate), loose-talking groper Newt Gingrich (Secretary of State candidate), and CEOs.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton have called for the country to unite for an orderly transition. I believe in orderly transitions. I applaud them. A democratic republic depends upon such transitions. I support that. But I will not be united behind a madman or absorbed into a collective madness that bodes evil. I will not turn over cars. I will not stop traffic. I will not burn things. I will write. And write. And write knowing, as this election has reaffirmed, that words DO matter.

I will do my best to be still. I will follow the example the biblical Wise Men (sic) who “being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, . . . departed into their own country another way”[Matthew 2:12 KJV]. Herod was a strongman in whom there was no refuge. There was and is another way.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.

The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

[Psalm 46]

Amen. May it be so.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 10, 2016